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The Daily: Russia’s Soft Power Savviness

The Daily: Russia’s Soft Power Savviness

April 16, 2014 6:42 am by: Category: The Daily Comments Off on The Daily: Russia’s Soft Power Savviness A+ / A-

Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

We can talk about Russia’s use of hard power in Ukraine, but don’t ignore the Kremlin’s savvy use of soft power in the process.

Much of the commentary on Russia’s recent annexation of the Crimea has focused on Russia’s hard power—its geo-political designs in the so-called near abroad, ostensible security vulnerabilities to NATO’s eastward expansion, strategic objectives, and military capabilities.  These questions are not moot and have a strong sense of urgency for leaders in Ukraine, Moldova, or even Kazakhstan nervously pondering Russia’s next moves.  Yet an excessive focus on the hard aspects of Russia’s power risks obscuring the Kremlin’s skillful manipulation of soft power—a factor perhaps equally important in accounting for the swiftness of “operation Crimea” as the shady men in balaclavas appearing on the peninsula’s shores. [Washington Post]

 

Interesting follow-up piece from Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcasting arm, on how attraction may not be enough to keep Eastern Ukraine away from the Kremlin.

Can it really be that the world will just stand by and watch as an unscrupulous president grabs a self-defined zone of influence? At the moment, the answer is, unfortunately, probably yes, because the people in power in the Kremlin probably don’t care in the slightest for the economic consequences of their policies and their reputation in the rest of the world, except for the likes of Assad. Together with its ally the US, the EU looks quite helpless, but at least they are still capable of presenting a common front. Vladimir Putin has so far not been able to drive a wedge into the phalanx, even though he tried it with energy and other threats. The fuse has been laid on the Ukrainian powder keg. The Russian match that could light the fuse is already burning just a few centimeters away. [Deutsche Welle]

 

 

This is a good overview of how Abu Dhabi is approaching cultural diplomacy, but is throwing vast money at it really new, as the headline suggests? (Though, to be fair, later it does say more precisely “new in the Middle East.”)

The Abu Dhabi government has therefore taken on a major role in cultural diplomacy that is new in the Middle East, and the motivations for it are different than those behind American cultural diplomacy. This new type of cultural diplomacy does not mean that the Emiratis are exporting their culture abroad, but instead they are sponsoring major international cultural projects at home. While the shaikhs aim to benefit the Emirati public, they are also trying to use foreign culture to put Abu Dhabi on the map as an international player and to demonstrate tolerance, sending a message that the UAE not only welcomes foreign businesses but also other kinds of foreigners. In the process, this strategy benefits America’s image in the Gulf. [CPD Blog]

 

 

The New York Times is hosting a debate relevant to public diplomacy in the wake of ZunZumeo: When Is Foreign Aid Meddling?

Earlier this month, The Associated Press revealed that in 2010 the United States Agency for International Development secretly deployed a social-media network in Cuba in the hope of bringing about political change. In testimony before Congress last week, the agency’s administrator, Rajiv Shah, denied that the program was a plot, saying “these programs are part of our mission to promote open communications.” Is the United States justified in using assistance to promote democracy and other political changes abroad? [New York Times]

 

 

Another day, another country moving toward economic diplomacy. Analysis of the speeches of Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs reveals a focus on it.

Analysing Bishop’s first six months through her published speeches—43 in that period—gives a revealing insight into her key preoccupations. ‘Economic diplomacy’ is one of the most frequently-used phrases in her speeches and appears as a regular reference point. The Minister defines putting economic diplomacy first as utilising international assets to promote Australia’s economic prosperity. That includes focusing on economic reform and trade liberalisation, supporting open trade, pursuing an ambitious free trade agenda, supporting a vibrant business sector at home and abroad and working for closer ties to Asia. [The Strategist]

 

photo credit: Mikhail Klimentyev / Ria Novosti

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About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.
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